Pacquiao vs. Bradley Round by Round: How the Judges Got It Wrong

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Pacquiao vs. Bradley Round by Round: How the Judges Got It Wrong
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

The Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley decision left me with many of the same feelings as the majority of the viewing public—a mixture of shock, outrage, disappointment and disgust.

I was so disgusted by the outcome that I went back to review each round and see if there was a way for me to come up with a Bradley victory. 

When I watched the fight live, I had given Bradley only two rounds—the sixth and the tenth—and even the sixth was quite iffy.  I was barely paying attention as they were about to announce the scores, thinking this was simply a formality.

Then I heard them announce Pacquiao’s name after the first score, and I realized that this would be a split decision.

Even worse, the man who was clearly beaten, in my eyes, walked away with the victory.

How could this happen?

I needed to find out.  So I decided to watch the fight over again, with the following guidelines.  Those of you who intend to watch the replay on HBO might want to give this a try as well:

  1. No audio.  I did not want Max Kellerman, Jim Lampley, and Harold Lederman scoring the fight for me.
  2. Bradley-bias.  I would score the fight as if I were looking for reasons to give Bradley rounds.  How else could a lopsided Pacquiao victory turn into a closely contested loss?
  3. No looking at official scoring cards beforehand.  I added in the three official scores after I scored it on my own.  Again, I did not want Jerry Roth, CJ Ross, and Duane Ford doing my scoring for me.

 

With each round I provide a retelling of what I saw, as objectively as I can possibly deliver it.  I only wanted Bradley-bias to creep in during close rounds.

Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

With that said, let us see the fight for a second time.

Round 1

Bradley frequently uses a pawing jab to measure Pacquiao and keep distance between the two men.  For the first two minutes of the round, Pacquiao seemingly lands 1-2 body blows to Bradley’s 1-2 head shots.  None are damaging.

In the final minute, Bradley moves forward with a flurry that has Pacquiao back into a corner, but no telling shots are landed.  Pacquiao later lands a solid punch with 10 seconds left and Bradley returns fire.

My scorecard: Bradley 10-9

Jerry Roth: Pacquiao 10-9

CJ Ross: Pacquiao 10-9

Duane Ford: Bradley 10-9

Round 2

 

Bradley once again opens the round by slowly sticking his left jab out no less than 20 times over the first 30 seconds of Round 2.  Pacquiao clearly catches Bradley twice during that span with shots that grab Bradley’s attention, as he temporarily abandons his jab for more aggressive power punching.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Towards the end of the first minute, Pacquiao traps Bradley’s left arm against his body, and Bradley uses the opportunity to land a succession of body shots to Pacquiao’s left side.  None seem to hurt the Filipino.

At the midway point of the round, ring generalship shifts to Pacquiao, as Bradley begins to back up; Bradley comes forward aggressively on two occasions to back Pacquiao up.  Neither man seems to truly hurt the other over the final minute.

My scorecard: Bradley 10-9

Jerry Roth: Bradley 10-9

CJ Ross: Bradley 10-9

Duane Ford: Pacquiao 10-9

Round 3

In the opening seconds of the round, Bradley finally lands a punch that gets Pacquiao’s attention. Manny smiles as he circles to his left.

 

No damaging blows are landed until Pacquiao hits Bradley clean with a straight left with 1:46 to go in the round.  Bradley, who was already slowly circling away from Manny’s left at the time, continues to do so.

Bradley resumes his pawing jab, which Pacquiao answers with another straight left at the midway point.  This one is noteworthy because Bradley was ducking his head at the time, indicating that Pacquiao was beginning to time him.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A jab and another straight left shortly after had Bradley abandoning the jab for a bit of a defensive crouch, anticipating another attack.  Bradley, true to his nature, presses forward again but in his greatest volume of activity of the round, barely makes contact with Pacquiao.

Pacquiao then lands a straight left that backs Bradley into the ropes, and follows it up with another hard left to Bradley’s right cheek as his back is against the ropes with :38 to go.  Bradley clinches.

At :13 left in the round, Bradley lands a solid right hook that stops Pacquiao’s forward movement.  Manny answers with yet another straight left to Bradley’s temple with :07 remaining, again as Bradley was ducking his head.  Bradley responds by sticking his tongue out, possibly a sign that he was hurt.  His legs look slightly wobbly.

 

Even with a bias towards Bradley, this round clearly belongs to Pacquiao.

My scorecard: Pacquiao 10-9

Jerry Roth: Pacquiao 10-9

CJ Ross: Pacquiao 10-9

Duane Ford: Pacquiao 10-9

Round 4

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Bradley opens with some good, strong body shots as Pacquiao defends his face.  Bradley is warned to not lead with his head as the referee separates the two fighters.  Once the action resumes, Pacquiao throws—and misses—an uppercut that shows he was expecting Bradley to once again lead with his head. 

The actions heats up as the two exchange in the middle of the ring.  The first major blow is landed by Pacquiao, as a right hook to Bradley’s head causes Bradley to stumble slightly and pause his attack. 

Pacquiao is dictating the flow of the round; Bradley backs away from Pacquiao until with :46 remaining Pacquiao unleashes a series of punches and Bradley does his best to bob and weave, avoiding many of the punches.  He puts distance between himself and Pacquiao but with :37 left on the clock, he stumbles.  This is the point where, unbeknownst to us, he injured his foot, but it looks more like Bradley has been stunned.

 

Pacquiao must see the same thing and comes forward as the two exchange again.  At one point, Bradley is more or less flat-footed and squared up while facing Pacquiao, again looking like a stunned fighter who is just relying on instinct to make it to the bell.

My scorecard: Pacquiao 10-9

Jerry Roth: Pacquiao 10-9

CJ Ross: Pacquiao 10-9

Duane Ford: Pacquiao 10-9

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Round 5

Round 5 begins with Manny pounding his fists together, begging Bradley to exchange with him.  Nothing happens.

With 2:10 remaining, he again pounds his gloves together.  The action picks up slightly as Manny lands some glancing power shots over Bradley’s lazy jab, and Bradley responds with some stiffer jabs followed by straight rights.

The first damaging blow of the round is landed by Pacquiao with :36 seconds left, as his straight left hand snaps Bradley’s head back.  Bradley clinches at his first opportunity.

 

The remainder of the round sees Pacquiao attacking and Bradley responding, but Bradley looks off-balance and throws a number of wide, looping hooks that not only miss but also make him look more like a drunken bar fighter than a PPV prize fighter.

My scorecard: Pacquiao 10-9

Jerry Roth: Pacquiao 10-9

CJ Ross: Bradley 10-9

Duane Ford: Bradley 10-9

Round 6

Through the first half of Round 6, it looks as if Pacquiao is taking the round off.  Bradley is winning by virtue of sheer activity, though most of what he does through this point is toss out his lead left hand with little conviction.

Manny steps up his attack but is hit with a right hook.  To this point Bradley is winning the round, but then Manny lands two solid straight lefts in the final :20 to throw the round into doubt.

Given the point of this exercise: When in doubt, give the round to Bradley.

 

My scorecard: Bradley 10-9

Jerry Roth: Pacquiao 10-9

CJ Ross: Pacquiao 10-9

Duane Ford: Pacquiao 10-9

Round 7

The round starts off slowly, with Bradley landing a couple of body shots and jabs in the first minute.  The two then begin to exchange, with each landing clean punches on the other.

Bradley fights with his mouth open and looks to be getting the worst of it.  With :37 left, he gets caught with a short left hook and stumbles backwards.

He then gets caught with a stiff jab, and even if Bradley had been winning the early portions of the round, the finish is enough to score this one for Pacquiao.

My scorecard: Pacquiao 10-9

Jerry Roth: Bradley 10-9

CJ Ross: Bradley 10-9

 

Duane Ford: Bradley 10-9

Round 8

Pacquiao and Bradley exchange fire much earlier in this round, but Pacquiao seems to get the better of it.  He lands a hook to Bradley’s face with 1:40 remaining and when Bradley subsequently has him pressed against the ropes, Pacquiao looks amused.

Pacquiao to this point does not seem to have ever been rocked by Bradley, but Bradley does seem wary of Pacquiao’s strength.

In close quarters with roughly 1:20 remaining and their heads pressed against each other, Pacquiao seems to hit Bradley with two or possibly three grazing blows: A left hook to the temple, a right hook to the opposite temple and a follow-up left hook.  The flurry disentangles the fighters and Bradley stumbles.  Pacquiao smells blood in the water and pounces, but his aggression ends with Bradley in a headlock.

In any case, this exchange is enough to give Pacquiao the edge.

My scorecard: Pacquiao 10-9

Jerry Roth: Pacquiao 10-9

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

CJ Ross: Bradley 10-9

Duane Ford: Bradley 10-9

Round 9

Bradley uses his jab to establish distance, but does not cause damage.  45 seconds into the round, Bradley lunges forward with a left jab as he is trying to step around Pacquiao, but he seems to be caught by a short right of Pacquiao’s that causes him to lose his footing.

Pacquiao steps up his pursuit and in the in-close fighting that follows, he seems to land more solid connects than does Bradley.

After the referee separates the two and warns them against head clashes, Pacquiao and Bradley exchange punches from the midpoint of the round up until the last 30 seconds.  The difference is that Bradley’s strongest punches land flush on Pacquiao’s gloves, while Pacquiao’s land cleanly both to the head and body of Bradley, often as Bradley is in mid-punch.  The end effect is that Bradley is left flailing in a series that highlights Pacquiao’s superior hand speed.

At :23 left in the round, Pacquiao lands a left hook that causes Bradley to stumble back three steps.   Bradley ends the round once again looking wobbled.

 

My scorecard: Pacquiao 10-9

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Jerry Roth: Pacquiao 10-9

CJ Ross: Pacquiao 10-9

Duane Ford: Bradley 10-9

Round 10

Bradley starts off strong, throwing his jab with more conviction and planting his feet to throw second and third punches in combinations.  He maintains control over the round through the first minute.

With 1:39 remaining, Pacquiao hits Bradley with a right-right-left and he assumes the role of aggressor. To his credit, Bradley fights well moving backwards in this round and Pacquiao does not do enough to overcome the early stages where Bradley was controlling the pace.

My scorecard: Bradley 10-9

Jerry Roth: Bradley 10-9

CJ Ross: Bradley 10-9

Duane Ford: Bradley 10-9

 

Round 11

Bradley again flashes the jab to start the round, but at one minute in, Pacquiao begins to land counter-punches over Bradley’s jab.  The round continues with Bradley backing away and firing his jab at Pacquiao, who remains in constant pursuit.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Pacquiao lands the most significant punch of the round with under a minute left: A right hand that turns Bradley’s head for him as he tries to roll with the punch.

Normally what I would score for the fighter who landed the stronger punches, I will now score in favor of Bradley.

My scorecard: Bradley 10-9

Jerry Roth: Bradley 10-9

CJ Ross: Bradley 10-9

Duane Ford: Pacquiao 10-9

Round 12

Going into this final round I have Pacquiao up six rounds to five, meaning that Bradley, even with me exhibiting bias as a judge, can only hope for a draw if he does not score a knockdown.

 

The round opens once again with Bradley flashing the jab and being the aggressor, but 20 seconds into the round, Pacquiao assumes that role and hunts Bradley across the ring.

40 seconds into the round, Pacquiao catches Bradley with a right hook that causes Bradley to stumble slightly into the ropes as he circles: This is the first important connect of the final round.

The two throw and land punches, with Bradley catching Manny with some jabs.  Pacquiao closes the round with three clean straight lefts to the face of Bradley.

A close round, but Pacquiao lands cleaner, more meaningful punches to take the final frame.

My scorecard: Pacquiao 10-9

Jerry Roth: Bradley 10-9

CJ Ross: Bradley 10-9

Duane Ford: Bradley 10-9

 

 

My Final:  Pacquiao 115-113

Jerry Roth: Pacquiao 115-113

CJ Ross: Bradley 115-113

Duane Ford: Bradley 115-113

 

Even showing bias to Bradley, I could not give him more than five total rounds, the same number that judge Jerry Roth awarded him while giving Pacquiao the victory.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Of the greatest concern are rounds five and seven; both judges CJ Ross and Duane Ford, who favored Bradley in this contest, gave those rounds to Bradley.  In both my first and second viewings of those two rounds, I saw Pacquiao clearly winning after damaging Bradley in each.

Had even one of those rounds been scored differently on either judge’s card, the worst case scenario would have been a draw with one judge in favor of Bradley instead of two.

Is it possible that this decision came about not through fight fixing, and instead through differences in how people see and score fights?

 

Yes, it is possible.

Some might look at Bradley’s jabs thrown and argue that his consistency and work rate earned him the rounds that could have gone either way.  This seems to me, though, as a more apt way to score an amateur bout.

As you can see from my round-by-round synopsis, I do not place value on lazy, purposeless jabs and prefer punches (jabs or otherwise) that are thrown with bad intentions.

Between the two, Manny Pacquiao appeared to throw the more damaging punches, even as he walked through many of Timothy Bradley’s flurries.  Pacquiao probably had a good chance to earn a TKO victory over Bradley in the early rounds, but for some reason he did not.

With a rematch looming in November and the chances at a super-fight with Floyd Mayweather hanging in the balance, expect Pacquiao to do whatever it takes to secure a victory on his own terms when he next meets Bradley.

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